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Church of Saint Alkmund

A Grade I Listed Building in Whitchurch, Shropshire

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Latitude: 52.9708 / 52°58'14"N

Longitude: -2.685 / 2°41'5"W

OS Eastings: 354096

OS Northings: 341713

OS Grid: SJ540417

Mapcode National: GBR 7L.JVP7

Mapcode Global: WH89H.QLNC

Plus Code: 9C4VX8C8+82

Entry Name: Church of Saint Alkmund

Listing Date: 1 May 1951

Last Amended: 1 March 1988

Grade: I

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1177510

English Heritage Legacy ID: 260599

Also known as: St Alkmund's Church, Whitchurch

ID on this website: 101177510

Location: St Alkmund's Church, Whitchurch, Shropshire, SY13

County: Shropshire

Civil Parish: Whitchurch Urban

Built-Up Area: Whitchurch

Traditional County: Shropshire

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Shropshire

Church of England Parish: Whitchurch St Alkmund

Church of England Diocese: Lichfield

Tagged with: Church building Neoclassical architecture

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SJ 5441

CHURCH STREET(north- west side)Church of Saint Alkmund (Formerly listed under Bargates)

Parish church.1712-13,by John Barker (1668-1727) of Rowsley,mason William Smith of Tettenhall.Restored in 1877-9 and 1885-6,further altered internally in 1894 and 1900-1902, and porch rebuilt in 1925.Red sandstone ashlar with some details in grey sandstone ashlar.Slate roof.Six-bay nave with three-bay apsidal chancel,south porch and integral west tower.Nave and chancel:moulded plinth,raised quoins,frieze with half-H panels above windows,moulded cornice,and coped parapet set back with balustrading above windows.Tall round-arched small-paned cast-iron windows(some replaced with C19 stained glass),each with surround consisting of cill and half-H panel beneath,pilasters with raised and fielded panels and moulded capitals,and moulded architrave to arch with raised keystone.Two windows flanking west tower.Cement- rendered blind oculi above south and north doors with moulded architraves and raised keystones.Round-arched south doorway in western bay consisting of plain architrave with plinths,impost blocks and raised keystone,pair of oak doors,each with ten raised and fielded panels,and radial oak tympanum with six raised and fielded panels. Semi-circular south porch with two stone steps,three round arches with impost mouldings and raised keystones,and unfluted pilasters between(with uncarved capitals) supporting entablature and balustrade with square dies.South doorway beneath window in second bay from east has pair of oak doors,each with three raised and fielded panels,and moulded architrave,becoming chamfer in plinth.Round-arched north doorway in western bay consisting of plain architrave with plinths,impost blocks and raised keystone,pair of oak doors,each with eight raised and fielded panels and radial oak tympanum with six raised and fielded panels.Door approached by two flights of red sandstone steps,zero to left and eleven to right, with square piers,and plain parapet with rounded coping,balustraded to centre.Boarded door beneath steps.Inscribed sundial on wall above and to left of south door,with wrought- iron gnomon.Remains of C18 or C19 painted memorial on apse,with fluted pilasters,open triangular pediment with urn in tympanum and painted inscription.Tower:four stages.Moulded plinth,corner chamfered quoin strips,moulded cornice to first stage,moulded string courses to slightly set-back upper stages,cornice to belfry with half-H panels above belfry openings and balustrade with square dies,large urn corner finials with weathervanes,and smaller intermediate finials.Round-arched belfry openings each of two louvred round-arched lights with the mullion running up into the apex of the main arch,moulded architrave with cill,impost blocks and raised keystone.Third stage with paired round-arched niches,each with plain architrave,impost blocks and keystone; round-arched small-paned cast-iron window to east with plain architrave,impost blocks and keystone.Oculi in second stage,each with plain architrave,raised keystones and radial glazing bars.Tall round-arched small-paned cast-iron first-stage window with surround consisting of cill and half-H panel beneath, pilasters with raised and fielded panels and moulded capitals,and moulded architrave to arch with raised keystone.Carved stone coat of arms in round-arched recess in third stage to south.Clock in belfry with wooden faces to north and south dated 1977.The tower breaks forward slightly to the west producing a one:one:one bay rhythm to this front. Square-section lead downpipes (the lower sections appear to have been replaced in glass fibre).A stone gutter runs around the body of the church at the base of the walls.Interior: refaced in stone in 1900-02.Five-bay Tuscan aisle arcades (half columns at ends) with tall pedestals,and round arches with moulded architraves and raised keystones.Tall blind tower arch with moulded architrave and raised keystone.Windows with continuous impost band and raised keystones.Moulded cornice to nave,breaking forward over keystones.Ceiling consisting of coving to rectangular panel with cable-moulded border and three circular panels within, two to west with gilded and painted anthemion and palmette enrichment and one to east with pair of gilded winged putto heads.Flat roofs over aisles.Stone nave floors.West doorway (to vestry) has pair of large C18 doors with ten raised and fielded panels each,and large wooden doorcase consisting of moulded architrave with panel above,fluted columns with acanthus capitals and unfluted Doric pilastersbehind, panelled soffit, frieze,and dentil cornice.Side doorways (to porch) have pairs of C.1900 inner doors(C18 outer doors) with moulded architraves and round relieving arches.West gallery between nave columns,resting on pair of unfluted wooden Doric columns,and front with frieze,cornice,and raised and fielded bolection-moulded panels.Returns have balustrading,circular newels with globe finials and pendants,and moulded handrail (probably reworked when side galleries were demolished).Raked seating.Central and side doors to gallery,with pairs of eight-panelled doors,stone lintels and round relieving arches.Apse redecorated between1900 and1902.Four unfluted Corinthian pilasters supporting sections of entablat-ure and continuous modillion cornice,moulded plinth,and painted ceiling with stars,and sun to front;soffit to front with stars in square panels.Windows with lugged and shouldered moulded architraves, blocks above,and marble in walls beneath.Black and white marble flooring.North and south porches:pairs of C18 oak doors into nave, each with ten raised and fielded panels.C18 semi-circular oak staircases (north and south) with nine hundred turn at foot,each with closed moulded string,turned balusters,sweeping moulded handrail and square newel posts with moulded caps and pendants.Balustrade to west windows too.North porch with boarded door to bell-chamber stairs.Fittings:dating from the C17 to the C20.Reredos and altar in memory of Lieutenant C.F. Dugdale; painted and gilded wooden altar with carving and inscription;reredos with stone base on large carved brackets, three-sided framework above with figures on posts,and central niche.Flanking carved wooden candlesticks with armorial devices.Altar rails with turned balusters,square dies and moulded handrail.Choir stalls of 1885 in eastern bay of nave with raised and fielded panels,carved scrollwork and fronts with colonnettes.C19 carved wooden eagle lectern.Probably early C20 wooden lectern(behind organ at time of survey-November 1986) with tapered square-section Ionic column.Various carved wooden seats etc.Profusely-carved C19 hexagonal wooden pulpit in a C18 style with raised and fielded panels,panelled corner pilasters,square base with scrolled brackets, and curved flight of steps with open string,attenuated barley sugar balusters (two per tread),swept handrail and wreathed newel.Lady chapel in eastern bay of south aisle in memory of the Revd.W.H.Egerton.Oak screen with raised and fielded lower panels, obelisks and scrollwork above,and central shield with flanking strapwork.Inscription to frieze.Left-hand side screen consisting of square piers with carved capitals and doorway with architrave,frieze,cornice and gate with turned balusters.Jacobean communion table with C19 marble top.C19 red sandstone reredos with carved panels and painted inscriptions.Painting of the Last Supper above,attributed to Bonifazio Veronese (1491-1553).Organ of 1715 in eastern bay of north aisle,removed from west gallery in 1894;sumptious case has bolection-moulded panels to base with flanking fluted pilaster strips,top with much carved pierced scrollwork,convex centre piece and taller flanking convex outer pieces,all with carved winged putto heads at base and moulded cornice to top;swept pipes between.Topped by central carved angel with trumpet and palm frond.Left-hand side with three bolection-moulded raised and fielded panels and carved friezes.Pews with raised and fielded panels to ends, probably incorporating parts of former box pews removed in1862.Octagonal red and yellow sandstone font of 1661 beneath gallery;step,cable-fluted stem with chamfered base,
bowl with fluted underside and carved panels with alternating fleur-de-lys and rose motifs,and pyramidal wooden cover (said to be of 1713 but looks C17) with strapwork and finial.C18 octagonal marble stem (now in southern vestibule) with moulded square base,slender stem and cable-fluted bowl.Probably early C18 iron-bound chest at west end of north aisle.Pair of C18 brass chandeliers.Table formed from hexagonal tester of former C18 pulpit.Three C18 benefactors' boards at top of southern stairs, two with bolection-moulded architraves and one with round-arched top and impost mouldings,four benefactors' boards on west wall above"ghLlbi, and further eight probable benefactors' boards in north porch with bolection-moulded frames etc.Pair of C19 Commandment boards on north aisle wall.Vestry:C18 raised and fielded dado panelling,and cupboards.Carved wooden Royal coat of arms with carved surround, medallion of Queen Anne above,and the initials"P.T."on small shield at base.Large painted(probably on wood)royal coat of arms beneath with frame consisting of panelled pilasters and moulded cornice.Loose carved wooden shield,possibly from C18 monument.Stained glass:some reused old glass in north aisle windows.Three south aisle windows and apse windows of 1860,that in apse signed by Warrington. Monuments:chest tomb in south wall,to John Talbot,first Earl of Shrewsbury,d. 1453, restored in 1874 by Adelaide Countess Brownlow,daughter of the 18th Earl of Shrewsbury.C15 praying effigy with dogs at feet.C19 chest and arch.Chest with moulded plinth and seven quatrefoil panels with carved motif in centre.Moulded arch above with square ball-flower ornament,and crocketed ogee hoodmould with finial and carved shield in tympanum.Tablet to right of south door recording the burial of the embalmed heart of John Talbot beneath the porch (present tablet erected 1873).Chest tomb in north wall, to Sir John Talbot, founder of the grammar school (q.v.) d.1550.C16 alabaster effigy of praying knight.C19 chest and arch.Chest with three ogee cinquefoil niches and two foiled panels in lozenges.Four-centred arch springing from pairs of short shafts with pierced cusping and crocketed ogee hoodmould with finial.Tablet on west wall beneath gallery to Matthcei Fowler,d.1683.Drapery held apart by two putti standing on skulls,scrolled pediment above,and base with two scrolled acanthus brackets flanking winged putto head with skull and cross-bones beneath.Further C17 and C18 memorials,including brass plaque on north wall to Mathew Fowler, d.1677.Reset C18 momorial panels behind organ.Various C19 monuments.Brass plaque to left of south-west door,in memory of Sir Edward German, born in Whitchurch in 1862 and died in London in 1936.Mosaic war memorial on west wall.Clock in tower by Joyce's,the famous Whitchurch turret clockmakers.Old drawings and photograph of the church in the vestry.The side galleries(demolished in 1972) were notable in that they appeared structurally unconnected to the columns by running behind them.They were fixed only at one point at the rear of each column (see blocked sockets).A church is first recorded on this site in 1089.It was the C15 tower of the old church that collapsed in 1711,necessitating complete rebuilding.Wooden plaque to left of south-west door with painted inscription:"The Old / Church fell ye 31 of July.1711 / The Foundation of this Church /was laid the 27 of March.1712 / and Consecrated the 8th of Oct./1713 in the I year of the / Reign of Queen Ann".Smith was contracted to erect the present building to Barker's design,who was himself sub-contracted to carry out some of the carpentry and joinery.Saint Alkmund's was the prototype of a number of C18 churches.The churches of Saint Modwen,Burton-on-Trent (1719-26) and Saint Giles, Lincoln (c.1720-4), both by William Smith (1661-1724), clearly display its influence.The Church of Saint Alkmund stands in a commanding position at the top of the High Street,forming part of an important group.B.o.E., pp. 313-4; D.H.S.Cranange,An Architectural Account of the Churches of Shropshire,Part 8, pp.735-39.Colvin, pp.88-9 and p.752;Kelly's Directory of Hereford-shire and Shropshire (1900), p.279; Kerry Downes, English Baroque Architecture (London,1966), p.107 and ill 447; Michael Moulder, Shropshire.A Shell Guide (London,1972), p.145; David Jenkins,Parish Church of Saint Alkmund.A Short History and Guide (1978).

Listing NGR: SJ5409541713

This List entry has been amended to add the source for War Memorials Register. This source was not used in the compilation of this List entry but is added here as a guide for further reading, 27th October 2017.

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